Big Ten, Pac-12 move to conference-only schedules for fall sports

In what may eventually be just an interim step before outright cancellations, the Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences both announced this week plans to move to conference-only schedules for fall sports, which in immediate news meant that a significant number of non-conference football games are now canceled.

Both the Big Ten statement from Thursday and the Pac-12 statement from Friday contained language that acknowledged that the 2020-21 sports seasons may not take place at all, due to ongoing concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic. The Power-5 conference moves come on the same week as the Division 1 Ivy League announced its outright cancellation of all fall sports.

“As we continue to focus on how to play this season in a safe and responsible way, based on the best advice of medical experts, we are also prepared not to play in order to ensure the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes should the circumstances so dictate,” said closing line in the Big Ten’s statement.

“The health and safety of our student-athletes and all those connected to Pac-12 sports continues to be our number one priority,” said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott in the conference’s statement. “Our decisions have and will be guided by science and data, and based upon the trends and indicators over the past days, it has become clear that we need to provide ourselves with maximum flexibility to schedule, and to delay any movement to the next phase of return-to-play activities.”

AT&T: Getting busy with multiple college football DAS deployments

In an interview with AT&T’s John Donovan earlier this year the company’s senior executive vice president told us that AT&T would continue to be aggressive in its deployment of stadium DAS systems. True to his word, here are announcements from no fewer than eight new top U.S. universities (and one that was announced earlier in the year) that got an AT&T DAS in time for this fall’s football season.

Included in the list of DAS deployments that AT&T either is leading or has joined another operator’s infrastructure are Baylor University, which has a whole new stadium and a new stadium Wi-Fi network as well; Big Ten schools Indiana University, Ohio State University, Michigan State University, the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin (where AT&T also installed a new Wi-Fi network and some IPTV systems); the University of Missouri from the SEC; and Pac-12 schools the University of Washington as well as the University of California, an installation plan that we covered last year. AT&T also participated alongside Verizon in a unique joint DAS deployment at the University of Oregon, also announced earlier this year.

Why so much DAS? As we are finding out in the process of doing a lot of reporting for our upcoming Q4 Stadium Tech Report on college football stadium technology deployments, Wi-Fi deployments are still somewhat of a rarity, even at some of the biggest schools. As we’ve said before, bringing in a DAS deployment makes a lot of sense for schools since A) you can usually get the carrier to pay for most if not all of the cost of building the DAS; and B) a good DAS goes a long way toward eliminating the feared “no signal” problem that can still be found on many major college campus facilities.

How much have fans already been using the new networks? According to AT&T the new Mizzou DAS has done the biggest amount of traffic so far, with 290 gigabytes of traffic crossing the DAS system with its 150+ antennas at one game this season. Cal was close behind with an average of 253 GB per game so far in 2014, while up in Seattle at UDub the fans are generating an average of 190 GB per game. Remember, these stats represent ONLY AT&T traffic on the AT&T part of the DAS; since we still can’t convince Verizon to provide similar statistics we’ll just have to guess what the total-totals are.

Stay tuned for more information about college stadium deployments… look for our Q4 STR report in early December!

YouTube Deal Will Enhance ACC’s Digital Network

The Atlantic Coast Conference’s digital network has introduced a channel on YouTube that will deliver live content from the ACC as YouTube continues to grow as a force in live sports broadcasting with deals such as this.

We have long talked about the emergence of YouTube as a de facto channel for sports, and YouTube has been working hard to cement that position with the ACC deal as one of its more notable deals. However in case you missed it will also be serving up some nice Olympic moments via a deal with NBC that will enable it to show highlights and live events from the London Olympics.

The ACC and YouTube have been partners to a degree for several years and provided exclusive, but not live content at its site since at least 2009, however this takes it a significant step further.

Between that time and now the ACC started a deal with Silver Chalice that enabled it to launch the ACC Digital Network that provided broad coverage of the ACC schools including news conferences, highlights and analysis that could be delivered to both Apple and Android mobile devices.

Now it will also present live events as well as on demand videos that are created by the ACC as well as a live weekly studio program during football and basketball season. There will also be condensed replays of ACC Network productions of football and basketball games.

The current deal will call for the ACC to provide fan access and interaction to its analysts via Google’s Google Hangout. Fans can view, comment upon and share the programming by visiting youtube.com/accdigitalnetwork, or by searching for ACC Digital Network on YouTube.

Of course others are also working on attracting digital partners. The Big Ten Networks recently expanded to support Android in its broadcast and the Pac-12 is increasingly involved in digital media. Still it is nice that the ACC will be presenting live sports to its fan base and other interested parties.

Friday Grab Bag: Bannister returns, Big Ten embraces Android

A sip of soda cost Ronaldinho $1.57m?
Apparently drinking the wrong soda can be costly as Brazilian soccer superstar Ronaldinho found out. He appeared at a press conference for his new team, Atletico Mineiro sipping a Pepsi, which happens to be one of the teams’ sponsors.

However Coca-Cola happens to be one of Ronaldinho’s sponsors, with a deal valued at $1.57 million. Apparently the powers that be at Coke’s headquarters were less than pleased and canceled his contract.


Big Ten moves to Android

The Big Ten Network has expanded its mobile reach with the release of BTN2Go for Android. The app, which enables subscribers to the Big Ten Network via their cable supplier, to view a huge range of sports on smartphones, tablets and via the web.

They will be able to watch live feed of all of the networks programming that includes more than 40 football games and 100 men’s basketball games among the hundreds of programs. The app is available at Google Play.

2/3 of new mobile buyers opt for smartphones, Nielsen says
The latest newsletter from Nielsen Wire shows that the in the second quarter of 2012 smartphone growth has continued unabated. Currently 54.9% of all US mobile phone subscribes now use a smartphone as of its June 2012 study.

Two out of every three new phone purchases were a smartphone during the last three months. According to the survey Android is the operating system of choice with 51.8% of all users adopting that platform while 34.3% use an iPhone from Apple.

Despite past results RIM Exec takes upbeat view
Research in Motion has seen things go from bad to worse as it reports losses, declining customer base and delays in its next generation smartphone, a product that it is hoping will bring it out of the doldrums that surround the company.

However there is a light cutting through the clouds according to Frank Boulben, RIM’s chief marketing officer said that the late delivery of its BlackBerry 10, after the important Holiday shopping season, will actually benefit the company as it will allow carriers to prepare and allow it to have the spotlight to itself.


Microsoft/Motorola Patent tiff on hold

Microsoft and Motorola have decided to wait until the hearing over Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) licensing obligations is heard later this year before continuing their patent lawsuits against each other.

While this will slow the lawsuit issue to a degree it does not affect any potential ruling by the International Trade Commission on two complaints involving the two companies, according to a piece in Electronista.


Microsoft is also aiming at Apple- Shock

Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer has said that it is a new day at Microsoft and that its Surface tablet will be taking on all comers, including Apple, vowing not to leave any market segments uncontested to its rival.

According to an exclusive in CRN Ballmer said that the company and its partners had ceded some areas in the high tech space to Apple and its innovative ways. Areas that Microsoft plans to now more fiercely compete include the consumer cloud and in the area of hardware/software innovation, he said.

It is interesting that one of the reasons Apple is still around as a company is because Microsoft invested $150 million in 1997, a deal that eventually netted Microsoft almost 19 million shares of Apple stock for an average cost of about $9 per share. Microsoft has since sold the stock.

NBC has an Olympic app-if you are a subscriber
NBC Olympics has developed the NBC Olympics Live Extra app that will enable users to watch every event live, which will run to an estimated 3,500 hours of coverage, according to a report from Michael Hiestand in USA Today.

The app will be available for Apple’s iPad and iPhone platforms as well as some Android devices. However NBC will only allow access to viewers who get NBC’s MSNBC and CNBC channels — that’s about 100 million households out of the 114 million total U.S. TV households.

London Olympics salutes Roger Bannister
Roger Bannister, now Sir Robert Bannister, the first man to break the sub-4 minute mile barrier carried the Olympic torch on the track where he broke the record 58 years ago. As part of the relay for the torch as it arrived in London he walked on the track and then handed it off. There is speculation that he will be selected to light the cauldron to start the Olympics.

Tablets continue to erode PC sales
Market research firm Gartner has reported that for the seventh consecutive quarter sales of PCs have continued a trend of anemic growth as demand lessens in favor of tablets. However it notes that economic weakness in both the US and Europe are also contributing to the poor demand.

According to the company sales in the second quarter were 87.5 million units with Hewlett-Packard the market leader followed by Lenovo and Dell.

Social news site Digg sold
Once high flyer Digg, a social news site, was a top destination on the Internet and it saw its valuation numbers soar with its popularity, but as with many popular sites, its appeal waned and viewership fell off as other newer technologies took its place.

The drop appears to now be complete as the site has been sold for $500,000 to Betaworks, which gains the site and its technology, which will be incorporated into a new unit that Betaworks will announce in the future, according to the New York Times.

The Big Ten Network expands to Mobile Devices with BTN2Go

Fans of Big Ten sports who are on the road can now take a piece of the conference with them, a sporting piece as the conference has expanded its Big Ten Network (BTN) presence to cover both mobile users as well as expanding its footprint on the Internet.

The BTN2Go features the live sports feed of the programming that fills BTN, it is simply made available to users of smartphones, tablets or access the site via the Internet. The BTN has done a staged rollout of the program, it debuted with the start of the football season last year as an Internet-only feature and then expanded to the iPad and iPhone quickly afterwards. A version for Android-based phones is expected within the next month or so.

The goal of the effort to provide fans of Big Ten sports access to games anywhere, at any time on any device, said Michael Calderon, BTN’s vice president of digital and interactive media. The network is currently looking at other platforms such as Windows Phone and connected devices including game consoles and expects to launch a new platform with the start of next year’s football season, Calderon said.

Users have to be subscribers of the participating cable or broadband providers, a list that includes Bright House Networks, Charter, Cox Communications, DIRECTV, Dish Network, Time Warner Cable and Verizon.

If you fall into that category then BTN2Go is free with no addition subscription needed and this gives you access to a huge amount of both current and past programming. First and foremost for many fans is the ability to watch live games. However games that are broadcast by BTN’s partners such as ABC and ESPN will be available the following day on-demand.

Calderon noted that a real benefit the program brings is for fans that do not live in the Big Ten area, where a game that are interested might not be broadcast, it will still be available on BTN2Go. Also when an event runs long, say the first of a basketball doubleheader, a user can still go to BTN2Go to watch the opening of the second game if that is the one they are interested in viewing.

The BTN has benefited from its founders foresight. When it was founded five years ago in ensured that it had control of all its digital rights so that the licensing issues that have the potential to stymie a program such as this do not exist.

Then there is also access to archival footage from earlier this season broadcast by both BTN and its partners. Of course there is highlight reels and coaches shows on a regular basis. The BTN also creates home grown series such as Original series such as The Journey, Big Ten Icons, Big Ten’s Best and The Big Ten’s Greatest Games that are also available for viewing.

Going forward the network is looking to add additional features to BNT2Go including possibly a social media module for Facebook and Twitter users, but for the first generation of the platform it focused on delivering a top video experience, Caldera said.